Hello Vmenke. An excellent question!
During the housing 'boom' of 2004-2006, a typical two-story, 3500+ sq/ft home in Maricopa sold for anywhere from $295,000 to $400,000, depending on the upgrades and if you had a pool.
NOW, that same home sells for around $30 per sq/ft, or $100,000.
Well...the housing 'bubble' burst, the economy hit the wall, property values plummetted throughout the country, and Maricopa was hit with THOUSANDS of foreclosures and short sales. Property values have fallen dramatically, and everyone who purchased during that time period is now underwater on their mortgage, and must make the decision to either wait it out for property values to go back up, OR walk away. If they cannot make their payment, they'll likely attempt a short sale OR let the bank take the home back at foreclosure.
During this period, the builders in Maricopa (there were MANY), built thousands and thousands of homes in some very nice subdivisions. New schools were built, as were a few businesses. Prices increased week over week, month over month, and the people kept buying and builders kept building. Homes were gaining equity overnight it seemed, and no one thought it would ever end, but it did, with property values declining almost as quickly as they went up.
There isn't much infrastructure in Maricopa; a few grocery storers, some restaurants...that's it. Everyone who lives there typically works in Phoenix and makes the long commute every day to and from Maricopa. There is really only one 4-lane freeway to get into the Valley, and it's about 20 miles one way. During the morning rush hour, and in the evening, it can get pretty backed up with traffic, and if there's an accident, look out. You're stuck.
This eventually caught up with the area, and combine that with the struggling housing industry and job loss, it was the perfect storm. There have been so many foreclosures and short sales in Maricopa that it's difficult to keep track. Right now, a lot of investors are buying up property at pennies on the dollar and turning them into rentals. It's not a bad idea, but there are better areas to look at for investing in property right now.
When will property values come back in Maricopa? Who knows, but one thing I can say for sure is that it will be a long time.
I would highly recommend looking for a home in Gilbert, Chandler, Mesa, Tempe. These places will hold value over the long haul, and there are MANY great deals to be had RIGHT NOW. Some are bank-owned foreclosures, and some are short sales, and some are 'regular' sales, but property values are at historic lows in these areas too, so it is an EXCELLENT time to buy a single-family residential home!
If you're interested in Maricopa, I've done a LOT of business there since 2005, as well as the other areas I mentioned. If you'd like a custom search of homes to view at home on your pc, just shoot me a quick email or give me a call; I'd love to help out!
Century 21 All Star, REALTORS